ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD in Bangkok, Thailand this Friday, 16 August is filled with an exciting list of match-ups.
I’ve been really inspired by Stamp’s journey from unknown martial artist to ONE Atomweight Muay Thai and Kickboxing World Champion in such a short space of time. Thinking about how she was the breadwinner of her household at only eight years old tells you how much martial arts has changed her life.
It’s hard to believe she is still only 21 because it feels like she has achieved so much at an age where most athletes are perhaps just only making their breakthrough. The way she overcame these adversities is a testament to her talent and her ambition.
In her home country of Thailand, she will start her path towards becoming ONE Championship’s first-ever triple sport World Champion. It will be quite a feat if she goes all the way, but first, she has to wrestle a win against an undefeated opponent who is also looking to build a reputation for herself.
Roka and Stamp are two top female prospects who possess tremendous skills in the striking department. Stamp’s capabilities are well-known, but her opponent — who is only 20 — has an amazing boxing background. Fans can expect a high-tempo match from two of the best young female strikers who are making their way up the mixed martial arts scene.
Although this bout seems like a stand-up contest on paper, I feel that most of the damage afflicted could be on the ground. Why I say so is because I know these women will be eager to show how highly skilled they are in different departments.
I also feel the mat could be where this bout ends. Both martial artists know they need to develop that skill set if they’re going to compete on the highest level, and I know that is something both of them can reach towards – especially Stamp.
I don’t know what to expect from her ground game, and a lot of other questions will be answered when the action unfolds. The Fairtex student might have a better submission game which I’m not aware of, so we will see what happens in Bangkok on Friday.
These two women are very intelligent, and they’ll have a great game plan for each other when they meet inside the Impact Arena. I don’t know how Roka or Stamp will go on to win this bout, but I would not leave a highlight-reel knockout out of the equation.
They are great knockout artists and well-versed in striking defense, too. It could all boil down to who gets a dominant position on the ground. From there, either one can get top position and unchain their punching power from that exchange. It could end in a very creative way for both these talents in either one of the three rounds.
We also have a pair of ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix semifinals taking place in Bangkok, and I am keeping a close eye on the match-up between Samy “AK47” Sana and Dzhabar “Genghis Khan” Askerov.
I watched both these athletes during the quarterfinal bouts at ONE: ENTER THE DRAGON in May, and you can tell they will not quit until they eventually achieve their ambition of winning the tournament.
Sana shocked the world in his last bout against one of the finest strikers in the history of the sport, Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex. The way he charged forward and fought fire with fire was something unpredicted. I expected him to use his range more – he is long and lanky – but he showed that he can strike in a short distance.
I remember him throwing his knees a lot during that duel, and at times, it felt as though they were push kicks. He threw his knees so effectively despite his long-range striking being shut out by Yodsanklai. It was pretty interesting to see how he used his short-ranged abilities in a kind of lengthy way. It shows that he can adapt to any form of game plan his opponent has for him.
However, I would expect him to use his range more in this clash, as Askerov is very powerful from the inside.
The Russian athlete battled his heart out in Singapore against Enriko Kehl — an opponent with a huge reach advantage — and it could result in the same outcome in Bangkok again.
Askerov’s biggest advantages are that he has incredible core strength and the way he utilizes his overhands, which is something you don’t see a lot in kickboxing. He is shorter than most of his opponents, but he knows how to use his overhands effectively while switching stances.
He can throw overhand lefts and rights, and he also utilizes spinning attacks really well. Also, he does the ‘Rolling Thunder,’ as Michael Schiavello calls it, and he is unorthodox in his attacks. What he lacks in range, he makes it up with his power and unpredictability.
It could all come down to who has a better strategy in these two bouts. Martial arts is a sport for thinkers. Anybody can fight, but not everybody can unleash their skills in a martial arts contest – and that’s where the strategy will come into play.
These four martial artists are all world-class strategists, and I expect every other athlete competing at ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD to follow through with spectacular performances.